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Over the past 30 years, the New Urbanist movement has advocated an approach to preserving, designing, developing, and restoring our regions, cities, and neighborhoods based on the foundation provided by the Charter of the New Urbanism. Signed by attendees of the 4th Annual Congress in 1996, the Charter provides the core principles of our collective work and articulates an alternative vision to urban sprawl. After a generation of work, the context of our collective work has changed as new and evolving obstacles to our vision have emerged.
The Charter of the New Urbanism represents a vision shared by those who signed the original document. A generation later, we have the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the Charter might now be expanded to respond to the new and evolving challenges cities face. Coinciding with the 30th Anniversary of CNU, the Board of Directors has authorized a process for soliciting, refining, and selecting amendments to the Charter of the New Urbanism.
The process will elevate those aspects of our shared practice that members consider fundamental to New Urbanism—and therefore ought to be explicitly spelled out in a Charter amendment. Led by the Charter Amendment Committee and administered by CNU staff, this year-long process will put the responsibility of amending the Charter in the hands of those who own its significance: CNU members, who will propose and vote on the amendments.
Amendment Process Overview
CNU has convened a Charter Amendment Committee that will be shepherding the proposed amendments or changes from submissions to final votes. Voting will take place digitally in tandem with CNU 32 in Cincinnati, OH on May 15 - 18, 2024. Only members in good standing will be able to submit amendments and vote on proposed amendments, so please be sure to join or renew your CNU membership if need be.
The call for amendment submissions is open from October 2, 2023 through December 3, 2023. The committee will consider submissions and determine if they are suitable for consideration and will also merge and edit proposed amendments or changes for voice and redundancy. All amendments put to a vote will be anonymous but authors may be contacted by the committee for edits, merges, or clarifications in the lead up to proposed amendment distribution and voting. The final amendments will be shared in Spring 2024 with CNU membership so a vote can be taken digitally in May 2024.
Interested in submitting an amendment? Please note the following items required for submittals:
- Please confirm your membership at the Urbanist or Discount Urbanist level is in good standing. If you have any questions please contact email@example.com
- Amendments should be no more than 50 words in length
- Proposers should consider the scales of the Charter and provide an explanation for the rationale
- Proposals must include an abstract describing the idea, which we will ask be expanded into a full essay further into the amendment process. It should be no more than 200 words. An example of a full essay on Principle 11 of the original Charter is available here.
- Imagery that supports or reinforces the intent of the amendment is encouraged but not required
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why amend the Charter?
- What is a Charter Amendment?
- What is the timeline?
- Who is involved in the process?
- Who is on the Charter Amendment Committee?
- Who is eligible to submit Charter Amendments?
- How many Charter Amendments will be accepted?
- What are the standards for submission?
- Is this the only time the Charter will be amended? What if no proposals get submitted?
- Can I submit anonymously?
- How will the Amendments be presented for vote?
- How does voting take place?
- What if my submission is over 50 words?
- How do I find out more about the Charter amendment or change process/rationale?
- What if different people offer proposals that are similar?
- What do I do if my CNU membership has lapsed?
- How will proposers whose amendments are accepted be recognized?
- How do I learn more about the final Charter amendments and changes up for a vote at CNU 32?
- What if I want to vote but can't make it to CNU 32?
- Still have questions?
Why amend the Charter?
Much has changed about the context in which we work since the founding of CNU in 1993, and in the spirit of evolution and growth, the Board of CNU is providing the opportunity for our membership to consider how the Charter itself might evolve.
What is a Charter Amendment?
A proposed Amendment to the Charter should reflect an addition or clarification to the original document. Proposals should not negate the Charter of the New Urbanism nor individual principles, and should seek to improve upon the original vision that the Charter describes.
What is the timeline?
Submissions for proposed amendments will be open from October 2 to December 3, 2023. The Committee will review submissions over the winter, which may include editing, combining, or rejecting submissions. Amendments that the committee will put forth to the membership will be published for discussion in March 2024. Voting will take place online in May 2024.
Who is involved in the process?
The Charter of the New Urbanism is the foundational document of the New Urbanist movement, owned by those whose practice reflects its vision. The Board of CNU have authorized the process of Amending the Charter, and have appointed a Charter Amendment Committee consisting of current and past board members to be responsible for reviewing, editing, and recommending the proposed Amendments. These amendments will be presented to the CNU membership for vote. CNU staff will provide the logistical support necessary for the Committee as well as the technical solutions for voting.
Who is on the Charter Amendment Committee?
The appointed committee includes current and emeritus board members: Susan Henderson, Laurie Volk, Marques King, Jennifer Hurley, Daniel Solomon, and Emily Talen. It is staffed by CNU President Mallory Baches.
Who is eligible to submit Charter Amendments?
Current members of CNU may submit amendments. You can check your membership status here.
How many Charter Amendments will be accepted?
There is no limit to how many submissions will be accepted through the form. You can review the language of the submission form prior to submitting. The Committee will review each submission and recommend them either for edit (within the committee or in consultation with the author), combination with other submissions, acceptance, or rejection. The committee will then determine a process for presenting the accepted submissions to the membership, which will be updated via this document in March 2024.
What are the standards for submission?
Per the standards of the existing Charter Principles, amendments must be 50 words or less, actionable, and tied to the scales of the Charter. Proposed amendments must be accompanied by a 200 word explanatory summary. Further into the process, the Committee will ask for a full essay expanding upon this abstract which may include images and drawings. Please use Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk’s abstract on Principle 11 of the original Charter as a guide, available here. Please review the language of the submission form prior to submitting.
Is this the only time the Charter will be amended? What if no proposals get submitted?
The board will re-initiate this process at future Congresses, if and when it is deemed there to be demand for further amending of the Charter in order to ensure it reflects the fundamental principles of New Urbanism.
Can I submit anonymously?
You must provide contact information to submit a proposed amendment so that the Committee may contact you with questions, discussion, edits, or asking you to combine with another submission. However, no names will be published with the amendments when they are presented to the membership for a vote.
How will the Amendments be presented for vote?
The Committee will be determining a process for presentation and vote that will be based on the quality and quantity of submissions. This process will be updated via this page by March 2024.
How does voting take place?
Voting will take place online during the 32nd Annual Congress in May 2024. You must be a member in good standing to vote. You can ensure your membership will be current at the time of the vote here. The amendments or amendment document as presented will be passed by simple majority.
How do I find out more about the Charter amendment or change process/rationale?
You can contact CharterAmendment@cnu.org to contact the committee directly.
What if different people offer proposals that are similar?
If similar proposals are received, the committee will ask to combine, edit, or merge submissions. Authors will have the opportunity to refuse this request; however, this will mean that the committee may not recommend the amendment for a vote if they deem it in need of edits.
What do I do if my CNU membership has lapsed?
You can renew your membership here.
How will proposers whose amendments are accepted be recognized?
CNU will not publish authors of the amendments during the review, voting process, or afterwards, in keeping with the tradition of the drafting of the Charter itself.
Still have questions?
Check out our On the Park Bench webinar "30 years on, amending the Charter of the New Urbanism" with the Members of the Charter Amendment Committee who described how CNU members will propose and vote on amendments to our foundational document. You can also contact the Committee directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.